Glutamine Antagonist JHU-083 Normalizes Aberrant Hippocampal Glutaminase Activity and Improves Cognition in APOE4 Mice

Kristen R. Hollinger, Xiaolei Zhu, Elizabeth S. Khoury, Ajit G. Thomas, Kevin Liaw, Carolyn Tallon, Ying Wu, Eva Prchalova, Atsushi Kamiya, Camilo Rojas, Sujatha Kannan, Barbara S. Slusher, Anne Schmöle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Given the emergent aging population, the identification of effective treatments for Alzheimer's disease (AD) is critical. Objective: We investigated the therapeutic efficacy of JHU-083, a brain-penetrable glutamine antagonist, in treating AD using the humanized APOE4 knock-in mouse model. Methods: Cell culture studies were performed using BV2 cells and primary microglia isolated from hippocampi of adult APOE4 knock-in mice to evaluate the effect of JHU-083 treatment on LPS-induced glutaminase (GLS) activity and inflammatory markers. Six-month-old APOE4 knock-in mice were administered JHU-083 or vehicle via oral gavage 3x/week for 4-5 months and cognitive performance was assessed using the Barnes maze. Target engagement in the brain was confirmed using a radiolabeled GLS enzymatic activity assay, and electrophysiology, gastrointestinal histology, blood chemistry, and CBC analyses were conducted to evaluate the tolerability of JHU-083. Results: JHU-083 inhibited the LPS-mediated increases in GLS activity, nitic oxide release, and pro-inflammatory cytokine production in cultured BV2 cells and primary microglia isolated from APOE4 knock-in AD mice. Chronic treatment with JHU-083 in APOE4 mice improved hippocampal-dependent Barnes maze performance. Consistent with the cell culture findings, postmortem analyses of APOE4 mice showed increased GLS activity in hippocampal CD11b+ enriched cells versus age-matched controls, which was completely normalized by JHU-083 treatment. JHU-083 was well-tolerated, showing no weight loss effect or overt behavioral changes. Peripheral nerve function, gastrointestinal histopathology, and CBC/clinical chemistry parameters were all unaffected by chronic JHU-083 treatment. Conclusion: These results suggest that the attenuation of upregulated hippocampal glutaminase by JHU-083 represents a new therapeutic strategy for AD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)437-447
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2020


  • APOE
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • glutamate
  • glutaminase
  • microglia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Glutamine Antagonist JHU-083 Normalizes Aberrant Hippocampal Glutaminase Activity and Improves Cognition in APOE4 Mice'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this